Opening Prayer

Gracious God, giver of life and peace and joy, thank you that I can trust you to provide all I need in this day.

Read 2 SAMUEL 10

David Defeats the Ammonites

10 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”

When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.

On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.

Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.”

13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.

15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.

17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers.[a] He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them.

So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.


  1. 2 Samuel 10:18 Some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 1 Chron. 19:18); Hebrew horsemen

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.’1

Think Further

The opening phrase, ‘In the course of time,’ reminds us that we don’t have a detailed account of all that happened, just a selection of events and actions that writers saw as significant. Our challenge is to work out what is significant about each situation that is recorded and what we might learn from it! The actual events here are clear, and we have seen many such events repeated throughout history and particularly in recent years. Often, the circumstances are international, but the pattern is also seen in national, regional, family, and even church contexts. Two leaders had a good relationship. One attempts to continue that relationship with the succeeding regime, but the trust, essential for such links, has, for some unknown reason, completely disappeared. Lack of trust leads to proactive aggression, which leads to full-blown war, which leads to other nations entering the fray, leading to the deaths of many thousands. Interestingly, here it is Aram and Ammon who come off worst in the end.

So, should we concentrate on the need to assume that people can be trusted until they actually prove untrustworthy, or maybe on the importance of leaders going themselves and not just sending a delegation? Or should our focus be the need to identify and support those in our service who have been mistreated? Must we assume all aggression should automatically evoke strong and violent response? Is the writer’s main concern to point out that Joab and not David was leading the army and to emphasize Joab’s skill as an army commander? This is a detailed and complex account, with many possible lessons – we must be asking ourselves which one is particularly being drawn to our attention when we read this story carefully ourselves.


Ask the Lord for help to avoid actions which are likely to cause responses that can then spiral out of control.

Closing prayer

In my country, in my family, in my own heart, Lord God, I seek your peace—the peace that only you can give. Please make me an instrument of that peace wherever you lead me.

Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by kingstar

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